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Tatton Park Vintage Car Rally

by Dave Richards

Swine's handy guide to Quality Parenting - how to spend another boring no-proper-footy Saturday when your significant other utters the dreaded line, "We should do something with the kids". This week, the Tatton Park Vintage Car Rally.

Tatton Park is a massive country estate near Knutsford, Cheshire and it's open to plebs all year round. Four quid per car and in you go. The Vintage Car Rally is in a field "over there somewhere" and it's a flim each for entry. Rrrrrrrrrrip off. The Field Over There is full of cars down one side and a tented car parts bazaar down the other. There's a long drag strip that separates the 2 halfs down the middle. The cars tend to be grouped together by "Marque", although there are exceptions. There's no hot rods or custom builds here, they are all standard models. The owners are usually sat off on garden chairs nearby getting slowly wasted (loads of their caravans and tents are up at the far end of the field) or occasionally switching their exhibits on to stand round with fellow Petrol Freaks grooving off the sound of the engine, and the overall ambience is like Glastonbury with Lord Humungus out of "Mad Max 2" playing Michael Eavis.

The brood were bored. I had decided that we would inspect all the cars first and the shops second, otherwise I would suffer the open wallet surgery straight off and not get a chance to see my All Time Dream Car, as they would want to get off once the shopping was done. Luckily, my "see the cars first or you'll get nothing and like it" gambit did the trick and off we went yomping down Supercar Avenue.

I hate sports cars owners. One of the only moments of joy on the daily commute is aiming your battered "100K on the clock" dent-mobile at a 2 foot gap in front of some wang in a Lotus on the clogged filter lane onto the motorway - "Let me in Mr Sat Nav, look at my battle scars." They always do, their wing mirrors alone are worth more than my car. The Vintage Car Rally is full of these people, all pleased as Porsche with their gleaming, waxed, brasso'd, totally useless in the real world, beautiful motor - "It's a real driver's car - WHAT ?". I decided to send in Number One Son to blow their high by arming him with a extra drippy 99 (with raspberry sauce and nuts). You can see them cacking themselves as the boy starts wiping his sticky hands all over his Argentina shirt, ice cream running down his chin, and shouting to me, "Can we get in these cars or what Dad ?". The look on their faces says one thing - "Jesus God ! These insects are Scouse as well". Ace. I must admit, I did have a soft spot for the old E-Type Jag though. Top car. We bounced round past the rest of the Ferrarris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Bugattis, Bettegas and Franco Causios in about 2 minutes. When you've seen one supercar you've seen 'em all - 5 miles to the gallon, group 47 insurance, can't fit a shinpad in the boot, can't get them out of 3rd gear, and they'd get keyed to bits by ours. What's the point ? Plus Eric Clapton owns 127 of them in his special garage in Surrey. Punitive taxes I say.

Next up was a sound little collection of 1930's American funeral cars. Pure Anthill Mob. All I could think of was the bit in "Once Upon A Time In America" where Noodles gets out the jug and they had the brass waiting in the hearse. I wanted Sybil to climb in so I could have 2 fantasies for the price of one, but she was having less. And she was hungry. So we retired to the nearby beer tent for burger and chips and warm beer. Behind the beer tent were a few military vehicles - US Jeeps, lorries, personnel carriers and the like, all set up around a Ack Ack gun emplacement under cammo netting - yes, it was a good as it sounds. The pick of the bunch was a soft top German Kubelwagen Jeep, which was the best thing there bar none. Whisper it quietly to the Bomber Harris jarg tin hat mob, but it's a undeniable fact that the Krauts had the best clobber and kit in Dubya Dubya 2.

The cars started getting less exotic now and I knew we were nearing the holy grail, my All Time Dream Car. To get there we passed a few dodgy vintage car collections - The Allegro Owners Club - eh ? The Hillman Imp Club - Arf ! The Morris Marina Owners Club - cue quiet laugh to myself as in my youth I regularly used to wallop some bint in the back of her Moggy in a local green belt car park. Years ago like, before I found out it's called "dogging". We were now at the furthest edge of the field and they finally came into view at last - The Ford Collection. Here they all were - Anglias, Ezzys, XR 2 Fizz Bombs, Zephyrs, Mustangs, Granadas. First up were the Capris. I wanted to check the Capri out because since 1981 Phil Thompson has told the tale of popping the European Cup in the boot of his Mark 3 (2.8 Injection) to take it down the Falcon. I've handled the big trophy myself once so I wondered could it be done ? Well just about, but I've no idea how Tommo managed to fit his Concordian neng inside the Capri's cockpit.

Finally I got to the car I'd been waiting to see, the Ford Cortina Mark 3. This car was ubiquitous in the late 70s by ours, they were known to some as The Garston Cadillac. I've even seen chopped down Cortina Mark 3 home-made convertibles. My uncle had a sandy brown one and we used to go everywhere in it - we had no car ourselves, father jibbed the automobile in favour of a Harry Quinn racer. Fair play to him though, he gave me moggers everywhere - including my first trip to Wembley for the 1977 Cup Final. Whenever they hit a ton a little bell used to go off. He wrapped it into the central reservation on the M1 outside lane on the way to the 1977 Charity Shield, and we limped onto the North Circular with steam coming out the engine and the half bent bonnet in the boot (they had to rip it off to see out the windscreen) while birmo clad Mancs pointed and mocked us. Me dad and uncles stayed over in a hotel while the car got fixed, I got a lift home off my older cousin and his mates in their Cortina - they tonned it all the way home and the bell never stopped ringing, while I squirmed in the back suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. They call it "Tough Love" now. A few years later one of the lads got regular use of a Mark 3 after his dad, mam and elder brother were all banned at the same time for Drink Driving. It was bright Orange, and we used to throw in a quid for juice and cruise South Liverpool with "Electric Ladyland" on full blam. It became too on top though as we were pulled all the time and searched for Ollie Reed, sometimes 3 times a day. When his dad's ban finished he got shut of it for a Black Granada Ghia, and that was that. Luckily, at the Vintage Car Rally there was a mint condition Orange Mark 3 Cortina on show, exactly like our mate's dad had, and I got a bit misty eyed. The owner (from Liverpool !) was sound and let us get in and grill our legs on the boiling hot PVC seats and mess around with the stezzer for a bit.

After that we had a look round the Car Mart. It was weird watching Sybil looking through racks of Pit Crew clobber as she tried to get rid of the Shopping Jones. In the end she got a pair of snide sunnys for a fiver ("Alex Curran's got these ones") while Sprog One looked round for the toy stalls for a die-cast Batmobile - luckily there was none and I ended up getting him a tremedous replica Luger - 3 nicker, proper weight on it, ideal for pistol-whipping his brat mates. Most stalls had bits of cars for sale, including hundreds of car badges as worn by Ad-Rock and co in downtown Slough, exhaust pipes for Alphas, spark plugs for Jags, tow ropes for Leylands etc. Occasionally some tweedy Colonel Blimp type would toodle past in a vintage Bentley or something. The Daily Mail would love it here. I realised it was time to go when the tannoy crackled into life and said, "The score from Old Trafford is England Six Jamaica Nil" and all the bumba-clats cheered.

Dickheads, you're going out on pens (Ed - Nostrodamus has got nothing on this fella, he wrote the article two weeks before the Portugal game, and he had money on it!)





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